by Justin Velez-Hagan, National Executive Director

A recent survey by Harris Interactive entitled The Youth Entrepreneurship Survey 2010, has proven exactly what The National Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce has known all along:  young people crave entrepreneurial education and experience.

According to the survey, 40 percent of young people would like to start a business someday (does not include those who want to be a doctor, lawyer, accountant, or other professional occupation).  But perhaps more revealing is the finding that more than half of those surveyed who know an entrepreneur are interested in owning or starting a business compared to less than one-third of those who have had no contact with an entrepreneur.

Although highly neglected in our educational system, entrepreneurship has one of the greatest impacts on our economy.  Programs such as Junior Achievement, whose intent is to teach basic, real-life economics to students, have had great success and are in ever-increasing demand across the country, but educators and even universities still hesitate to create and fund programs which may help a student to innovate, create, and promote an economic benefit.  In one known instance here in the Washington, D.C. area, a local school facing budget cuts has decided to eliminate its entrepreneurship course while maintaining its home economics course.  Home economics courses can provide valuable learning experiences, but should we be teaching subjects that can be taught at home in lieu of courses that can provide an overall net benefit to our economy?

In a time when Hispanics are less likely than other ethnicities to graduate from high school, yet more than six times more likely to open a business, we should be placing an extra emphasis on entrepreneurship in education.  The same Hispanics that are opening these businesses are also less likely to be successful in the long-run and are in greater need of general business skills and mentor entrepreneurs.  Since Hispanics are expected to become the majority in this country’s near future, the future of our economy will depend on their success.

Our Chamber is adamant about promoting entrepreneurship in the classroom by sending out volunteers to classrooms, creating Voices in Latino Entrepreneurship, a bi-monthly webinar featuring a successful entrepreneur, hosting Business Plan competitions and events, as well as offering our many free services to any budding entrepreneur.  We will do anything in our power to promote entrepreneurship amongst young people to ensure their success, our success, and the future success of our country.